Ed Whitlock, 85 year old marathoner because he can.

Sitting on the plane from Sapporo to Bangkok, I read an interesting article in the Bangkok Post about Ed Whitlock, an 85 year old marathoner who ran the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 3:56:34. It’s inspirational. He doesn’t do any specific training, doesn’t adhere to any strict diet or use any gadgets to monitor his heart rate and training. All he does is run by the cemetery by his house in 15- year old shoes. He doesn’t run for his health, or gets runner’s high. He runs because “the real feeling of enjoyment is getting across the finish line and finding that you’ve done OK.”

Numerous tests have been conducted and he apparently has a large VO2Max capacity and good muscle retention for his age. I suspect his genes play a big part in his being able to continue running at such an age. What I find more intriguing though is his attitude which I think is what really keeps him going. In the article he is quoted as saying, ” I believe people can do far more than they think they can. You have to be idiot enough to try it.”
This, to me is probably his secret. If you believe you can do something and truly work at it, I believe you can achieve anything you want to. It’s the story we tell ourselves that determine the story of our lives.

If you tell yourself you can’t do something, then you can’t and you won’t. If you tell yourself, and believe in yourself, you can accomplish whatever your goal is. That said, it might take some time before you accomplish your goal, but if you work at it long enough, you’d be closer to your goal than if you had never started. If you focus on the end goal, you might get frustrated at not being able to reach it, but if you focus on taking action towards those goals, then you’d keep moving forward. As Ed Whitlock showed us, age is not a limit and is not a constraint to living your life because at whatever age you start working towards your goal, you are one day closer to your goal than the day before. 

Thank you Ed Whitlock for reminding us that life has no limitations than those we set for ourselves. Now, the burden is on you. What are your goals in life? Let’s get moving!

Don’t Think, Just Run

I feel like I’ve somewhat passed a strenuous physical exam after recovering from a super strong strain of flu that had my brain dizzy, muscles sore and made me just collapse into a sleeping beauty every night.  My immune system is now super charged and ready to take on what come.  Now it’s time to get ready for the Bangkok Marathon in November.  This week, I’ve started doing extra long runs at the gym. (Not really that long for a professional runner, but long for me)

I usually run two sets of ten minutes in the mornings, but that is really not far at all.  It takes me only roughly a little over a kilometer.  To make 5km, I’m going to have to keep running and running and running. Running for around 40 minutes non-stop.

To do that, this week I’ve been doing running stretches of 20 minutes.  Knowing that my brain would want to give up after ten minutes, I eased myself into running 20 minutes by lowering the speed slightly, but keeping the incline at 1% (so that the treadmill will resemble the outdoor a bit more).

I also had to stop thinking.  Yes, don’t think when you run.

If I think, I always end up stopping.  So I had to keep telling my brain to just ignore the thought process for awhile and kill off the voices from the lazy me inside.  Every five minutes, my lazy me would go through the cycle of trying to talk itself into stopping.

“Five minutes is a nice round number, yes let’s stop here for a bit.”  At this point, my lazy me is smiling and making the stop seem so pleasant.

“No, I’d reply.  Another five minutes then we can stop”  Yes, I trick myself every five minutes to run another five minutes. (I say I’d stop, but actually I won’t, because I’d trick myself again later.)

This self tricking involves not looking at the timer on the treadmill when the seconds count down from 4.56 mins to 4.57mins  to 4.58mins then 4.59mins.  My heart gives a big thump.  I must not give in, no I won’t and so I ignore this awful timer and instead try to look around the room at the other people running and exercising. I look out the window, watch the flickering TV screen and note to myself that the grandpa on the other treadmill seems fitter than me.  By the time I look again it becomes 5.10mins and then I say to myself,

“Haha!! you passed the round number, might as well run to the next round number. You know you are going to feel like a better person for having finished the entire run than giving up on yourself halfway.”

When I finish the run, it is indeed a feeling of accomplishment.  Even though how little the accomplishment, I think it’s a great way to start the day.  You won over yourself and ran a full 20 minutes. You killed the lazy voices, put them in coma.  Next week it’s going to have to start being 25 minute runs.

Yes, lets all stop thinking and just run!  RUN for your health, run for yourself, run for a new life.

5K Cancer Care Charity Fun Run

If you are a member of my facebook page, you probably already saw some photos I’ve posted from this morning’s Cancer Care Charity Fun Run.  This is my second time running the 5K and the first time I did it alone without Alex motivating me on.  I have to say it wasn’t easy considering I was having stomach cramps, but then running is all a mind game.  Once you get in it, you just have to try and win over.

The mind game for me started the minute I woke up.  I wasn’t feeling very well and my lazy me kept telling me to just sleep in and forgo it.  So many reasons popped into my head in a matter of minutes.  Luckily, the past year and a half the lazy me’s voice has been growing quieter and quieter as it had been losing its battles to the active me.

“Active” me jumped into attack the “lazy” me and it told me to just get my lazy bum off my bed, get ready and get to the park.  It told me that when I was there, if I was still truly feeling ill, then I can just do a very slow jog or walk. (This was the active me’s way of getting me to the run, fully knowing that once I was there I would have to run.)  I had to go.  I could not just give in and let the “lazy” me win over after all this hard work.

And so I got myself into the car and got to the park.  As the “active” me had already known, seeing all the people, the bustle and hustle of the Cancer care charity run made me forget everything else and just want to join in the fun.

The run started, I was amidst the crowd and then the adrenaline sets in.   I see people running and I want to run.  There are hundreds of people. I’m number 130.  I start slowly, moving in and out of crowds, it feels like I’m playing a game.  There are people of all different ages and races.  There are families, there are children with their parents, there are brothers, sisters, there are couples, there are friends, there are colleagues and there are real active runners that just zoom past you like they had a turbo engine attached to them.

Lazy me comes back again like a broken record that keeps replaying certain parts.  Lazy me wants to walk and just enjoy the nice cool breeze and the green green trees that line one of the few parks in Bangkok.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. 

Active me pushes the thought aside and I remember Alex’s trick to keep me running. The trick is to keep looking around and enjoy the scenery.  I start noticing the water in the ponds, the old men that come out to sit and enjoy the park, the senior ladies who come out for a walk, the Chinese style pagoda and the children’s playground.  Its a beautiful park especially in the morning light.  I wonder why I don’t come here more often.

I then think of another’s colleague advice on putting her mind elsewhere.  Focus it on other parts of the body.  I move it from my head to my fingers, to my phone and then somehow it goes to my feet.  It starts getting fun to change my pace and then alternate the way my feet hits the ground.  For awhile, its fun and I feel I could go on for awhile.

I did, however, cave into lazy me and walk partly.  However, for fear of walking too long, I’d just give myself a few landmarks ahead and once I get to it, I tell myself I have to run.  Sometimes I use people as landmarks, sometimes its trees, or its some benches.  It works.  It stops me from taking too long a break.

My run takes a total of roughly 40 minutes and I can tell you nothing feels better than running through the finish line.  I did it.  I ran (with some walking) 5K.   Its still not my favorite activity in the world, but its getting easier. It certainly felt easier than my last 5K run in November.  And with time it should get easier and easier!  One day I’ll do the 10K. Yes, I will.

What happens to your mind when you run?  What tricks do you use to keep yourself running?  Please share any tips or advices.  Thank you!

Cheat Not, Run For Yourself.

It’s a day after the run, and although I only did 5K somehow my legs are still sore.  It must have been the way I “tiptoe” run or perhaps I’m just not used to so much running.  Funny though, even with sore legs,  the exhiliration from the run still lingers on.  I’m still very much stress free and happy.   I ran not for someone else but rather for myself.  It’s something one does to challenge oneself. 

When I signed up for 5K, I knew it wasn’t much at all if you talk to a “real” runner, but for me who a year ago was still 15kgs (32lbs) heavier it was quite something.  I had started running to lose weight.  Prior to that, the last time I remember running was during my childhood days.   I had forgotten how it was to run and be “active.”  So used was I to sitting in my office chair for 10 hours on end staring at the computer screen.  I had derived comfort from sitting, eating, and websurfing.    Sitting was comfortable.   Running was not “my” thing.

Fitter now,  I wanted to see if I could do the 5K.  The weeks running up to the run had been a bit hectic and I had not been training  as much as I should have.   I was nervous and wondered if I should instead lower myself to the 2.5K.    I’m glad it remained a passing thought and that I stayed on track with my 5K.  During the run, I was tempted to cut across the lanes and shorten my run, but then I would only be cheating myself. 

I would not be cheating anyone since this run is for “fun” with no competition.  However, if I had cut across, I would have “cheated” myself.   I would have “cheated” by telling myself that I did 5K when in reality I didn’t.  I would have meant I had taken the easy way out rather than pushing through to the end.  It was not a habit I wanted to have.  A habit that is not good for running, nor for anything else in life.  I believe that if you want to do something, do it with full intention and do it with full effort.  If not, don’t do it.

The run wasn’t really physically tiring, it was mentally challenging.  The brain kept wanting to stop when the body could go on for much more.  It’s an internal battle you just have to beat.  When on my weightloss, the battle was much more intense.  I wanted to stop at every opportunity.   Now the “enemy of lazy bones” has been losing and hopefully they will one day give up the fight. 

What once you feared, upon doing it, it often turns out to be easier than thought.   I’m actually now tempted to do the 10K next year.  If I choose to, I have a year to train.  It won’t kill me.  At worst, I’ll just end up walking.   So that is what running for me is all about.  It’s not only about keeping fit, but its about challenging yourself, challenging your mental attitude, challenging your mind to accomplish what you set out to do.  Reach for your goal and accomplish it!

My 5K Bangkok Marathon

An event I had been looking forward to with much anticipation finally arrived today: The Bangkok Marathon.  The last time I ran (well walked most of it) was two years ago when I was still very chubby and very unfit.  This year, I registered for the 5K and being fitter I wanted to see how I would do. I wanted to see how actually running most of the 5K would turn out to be like.  It was also a fun event that Alex and I could both do together.

The day started out early.  The 5K runners or what they call “micro-marathon” were to start running at 6.20am and due to the massive amount of people, I wanted to get there early.  Roads had been blocked around the beautiful historic area of Bangkok since early morning when the marathoners started out on their 4 hour long run.  Maybe one day I’ll be crazy enough to do it, but for now I am happy with 5K. 

There is a certain feeling of anticipation and unexplicable fun that comes with participating in such a big event.  Driving out towards my destination before the sunrise, when most of the people were still dreaming away in their cosy beds,  I spotted fellow runners in their cars.  You can tell by the shirt they’re wearing and the numbers they have pinned to their shirt.  Then I drive pass roads that had been sectioned off for the runners.  Unexpectedly, I spot a very fit marathoner bicyling to the event in full gear, and another jogging off track, perhaps having a long warm-up.  It makes me feel wonderful to think that so many people can be up early for such a healthy cause.

Upon reaching the starting line, there were massive amounts of people. Everywhere I looked there were people.  People of all ages, all nationalities and all fitness levels.  There were even dogs dressed up for the run and some even had their own number! I love the owner’s sense of fun.  Everyone wanted to be there and most importantly, everyone was happy.  A stage by the starting line was filled with dancers and music.  It was entertaining and fun.  People danced along to the beat, some took photos and some just stood there smiling. The cool morning air was alive with energy. The beautiful backdrop of the Grand Palace shone out in all it’s glory.

Nearing the starting time, you could feel the level of energy increase.  Everyone was waiting for the countdown and that unique blast of the horn that would send tens of thousands of people out onto the roads. Tens of thousands of people running.  I was number 41300 of the 5K.  I think there must have been a hundred thousand people at this event.  The rush of energy that accompanied the horn was incredibly fun.  All of a sudden everyone around you was running and jogging.

I decided I would run slow and keep my pace. I wanted to run for as long as I could before starting to walk. Now in all my running sessions at the fitness, I had never reached 4k, let alone 5K.  This was going to be interesting.  I ran very slow, but the most important thing was to keep the pace going and not walk.  If you stayed constant and steady, you’d be fine.

As I ran, several thoughts kept going through my mind. Of course the lazy me, comes up instantly and starts asking me why I had to subject myself to such a ridiculous amount of running. I ignore it and push on.  Then the complaining me pops into my head and asks me why the course was so long.  I had to run from the Grand Palace to the Democracy Monument, to the United Nations and then back again.  Again I push it out.  Then the stomach aches and the feet aches start coming up.  Oh no, my body wants to stop.  Luckily Alex is besides me and he looks like this run is just a warm up.  For him, this is easy.  He’s looking around and enjoying the view of Historic Bangkok while I’m panting like a panda. He tells me to look at the cute Siberian Husky and the pair of Pugs.  I grunt along.  He pushes me along and I manage to somehow continue on with the run.

I run out of breath at around 2K and need to have a little walk before continuing on.  I’m told I’m not breathing correctly and I run like I’m tiptoeing.  No wonder I tire easily and make loud noises on the treadmill.  I try to adapt the way I run and it gets better but there is much to be improved.

I push along the last leg of the run and finally reach the finish line 40 minutes after I set out.  I’m happy.  Actually, I’m very happy I did manage to Run/Walk the 5K.  It felt extremely tiring during the run, but now it’s done, I wish I could do it again.  There was actually a part where I enjoyed the running, jumping left and right around people, some trees and some people taking pictures.  If only, I could make that part sustainable.

What I liked most about the Marathon though was looking at the faces of everyone around you.  You could see smiles of happiness and satisfaction.  This run made people feel good.  There were families out there running with young kids and some probably in their sixties. There were wheelchair participants, being pushed along.  Everyone here was running because they wanted to.  It was an event open to all.   It was good for your health, both body and mind.

I have to say that its definitely an event to be remembered.  Sometimes we need events like these to remind us how good life is. Happiness can be had from the simplest things.  Simple things such as running.  All you need is pair of running shoes, some socks, and an open mind. 🙂 Happy Running!

Let’s Join the 5K Bangkok Marathon

With all my rantngs on good eats around Bangkok and around Malaysia, I assure you I have not given up on running. I still do go running at least twice a week even after I hurt my back and had to give myself a one week break. It has been hard to regain the momentum I had when I was on my diet after a week off, and a lazy week after, but it is important not to give up and stop running if you want to maintain that health you worked so hard for.

I am planning to run the 5K at the Bangkok Marathon which is held annually every year in November and its about time I started training seriously. If you are reading this, I hope you will join me this year. It’s on November 21st, 2010. (http://www.bkkmarathon.com/)

The last time I did the 5K (which by-the-way is considered Micro-marathon, Walk and Fun Run which means they don’t even consider it a “real” run) was in 2007 when I was totally unfit and unprepared. My good friend invited me to join and I thought “why not?” I’m really happy she did bring me along, or rather I tagged along, because it was a wonderful experience. Waking up early before the sun rise and running along with the beautiful royal palace as a backdrop… Gorgeous. I even still have the finisher medal.

Going totally untrained and unfit is not recommended. I remember being overtaken by people running along while pushing a wheelchair (since 5K is so EASY, its a “fun” run), and overtaken by people who were significantly older than me. Being at the end of the crowd, your heart kind of just drops when you see a large crowd of people running along happily in front of you.

Anyhow, I am going to seriously start training and if you are interested, try this 5K to couch program that helps you prepare for the 5K run. (http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml)

I’m somewhere around week 6, so what I have to do from now on is to push myself to run for longer periods non-stop. Remember, running outdoors is harder than running on the treadmill, and its all the mind! 🙂 Oh, and if you want to do the 10K Mini-marthon or the full marathon please go ahead!! I’m happy with the 5K for now 🙂 See you soon!